3 Calming Apps for Overstimulated Kids

Living with ADHD is stressful — especially for a child. These apps and gadget will help your child achieve calm and tone down anxiety.


App is free; $99 for Puck

Calm, slow, deep breathing isn’t the easiest thing for a hyperactive kid with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) to pull off. But research shows that learning to control one’s breathing reduces stress, improves physical fitness, and boosts cognitive performance. So how do you get your kid to stop bouncing off the walls and take a breath? By turning it into a game, of course!

Zenytime combines a biometric tracker — known affectionately as the “Puck” — with an app full of fun games that encourage your child to breathe slowly, deeply, and with purpose. The Puck measures his breathing, heart rate, and other biomarkers and turns them into game controls, tracking your child’s progress and showing his results in colorful, easy-to-read charts.

Unlike traditional video games, Zenytime won’t keep your child playing it for hours. The games last five minutes at a time, and Zenytime’s experts recommend that your child play them three times a week — though more won’t hurt.

[Free Resource: Manage Your Child’s Anger]

Feel Stress Free

App is free; subscription starts at $6.49/month

When your child struggles at school or at home, it’s easy for her to get stuck in a bad mood. Help her take control of her feelings over time with Feel Stress Free, an app that uses evidence-based strategies to help users of any age manage stress, recognize symptoms of anxiety, and train their brain to look on the bright side. This versatile tool provides multiple ways to calm down quickly, understand emotions, and track your own progress.

Have your child start each day by tracking her emotions on the Mood Meter, which is visually engaging and easy to use. Her results will lead her to a personalized plan to manage the day’s stresses, ranging from guided deep breathing or muscle relaxation exercises to spending time in a soothing interactive Zen Garden. The app’s bright colors, calming island backdrops, and cheerful alien avatar make it a delight for children.

[Take a Deep Breath: Teaching Kids to Control Emotions]


App is free; $249 for headband

Guided meditations are useful tools for managing stress, but the wordier they get, the harder it is for kids with ADHD to follow along. The Muse brain-sensing headband (and accompanying app) takes the chatter out of guided meditations, using only natural sound cues to guide your child’s brain back to a calm, relaxed state.

Muse is a thin headband that sits across the forehead and rests behind the ears. Once it’s adjusted, have your child plug in his headphones and sync up the iPhone or Android app. He can select his favorite soundscape — from desert to beach — close his eyes, and start meditation.

The headband tracks your child’s brain signals as he meditates, changing the tempo of the sounds to nudge him toward a quieter mind. When he’s calm and relaxed, he’ll hear a gentle breeze; when his brain is racing, the wind will pick up — encouraging your child to refocus on slowing his brain. After each meditation, your child can track his progress with charts — and get tips on how to stay calmer in the next session.